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I've been experiencing mysterious system lock-ups at random intervals for a few months now on my desktop (running Arch Linux), and don't know where to begin debugging. Initially I thought it was an issue with the buggy ATI Catalyst (I've heard of many people having issues with them, and didn't seem to have issues before using it), as there was always a screen flicker, followed by some random screen artifacts before the crash.

But after buying a new graphics card (NVIDIA this time) I still experience the issues. Looking through dmesg after the lock up reveals nothing, same goes for Xorg.n.log files. I've run memtest86, but that found no issues.

To clarify what I mean by "lock up":

  • Keyboard and mouse input has no effect (although occasionally I can move the mouse, nothing more though)
  • I'm unable to ssh in

How do I go about debugging things kind of crash? When it happens seems to be fairly random, so there's no easy way to reproduce it for me to try different debugging methods. Is there a way to enable more verbose logs to be made which could reveal something? Any log files I've missed out?

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Have you overclocked the processor and/or the memory? Go into the BIOS and make sure both are set to stock voltage and frequency.

  • Not as far as I'm aware, although /proc/cpuinfo reports my AMD Phenom(tm) II X6 1090T Processor as running at 0.4Ghz higher than specified - I'll check and report back. – Robert Dec 7 '10 at 20:47
  • In the BIOS, everything is set to auto (although a few of these have warnings with them - the only other option however is manual), the only option that seems relevant is the AMD Core Performance Boost option, which is enabled. – Robert Dec 7 '10 at 22:04
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Sometimes memory errors elude memtest. There was one story here on superuser about this, but I can't find it right now. If you have several memory modules, try to remove one of them and check if the crashes still happen.

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